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Browse F.A.Q. Topics

About Advocacy

  • How do short-term Citizen Advocates help?

    Short-term Advocates are able to help someone who has an issue that cannot wait. They will help someone to look at their situation and figure out the best way to deal with it. That may be doing something very simple like filling out a form, or helping someone through a very complicated and emotional situation. A short-term advocate can make sure that someone understands to the best of their ability what the situation is and what their rights are. They can then help them to put their views forward. By receiving Advocacy a partner will feel supported and less vulnerable in a difficult situation.

  • What does a short-term Citizen Advocate do?

    Short-term advocates are matched with a partner for as long as that person needs their help and support. This can be anything from 2 weeks to a year. Usually the Advocate will get to know the Advocacy Partner and find out about the issues they are facing. They will then work with the Partner to make a positive change. This is often through helping them to understand and complete complicated paperwork, talking to healthcare professionals on their behalf or helping them to manage their finances.

  • What do Advocates do with their partners?

    It is up to the Advocate and the Partner to decided what they want to do, many people meet at each other’s houses or at a cafe for a cuppa of some kind. Some partnerships may do more such as go for lunch, go to the cinema or for a game of pool. Short-term partnerships are often more focused on addressing specific problems, rather than the more social side on long-term partnerships.

  • What types of Advocacy are available?

    Dunfermline Advocacy provides two types of Advocacy support, long-term and short-term. The most suitable support for someone depends on their individual circumstances and immediate needs.

  • What are the benefits of Citizen Advocacy?

    Advocates make an invaluable contribution to their Advocacy Partners’ lives in many ways, both practical and emotional, but Advocacy also has a positive impact on the Advocates themselves. Many of our Advocates say that they get as much from the relationship as their Partner does and that their friendship is a valuable and important part of their lives.

Becoming an Advocate

  • How do I know if I will get on with my Advocate/Partner?

    The development worker will aim to match people with common interests and who will feel comfortable with each other. Any problems can be discussed with your development worker - they are always there to support you.

  • Will being a Citizen Advocate cost me anything?

    There may be some cost, such as travelling, or if you and your partner decide to do anything that costs money. We encourage partnerships to share expenses equally.

  • Do I get paid to be an Advocate?

    No expenses are given to any advocates. Our aim is that the Advocate and Partner will become friends first and foremost, so that Advocacy is not another paid service for the partner. It is not about doing things that cost money with your partner, but  about getting to know them and being a support for them. We encourage partnerships to choose free or low cost  activities and to share any expenses equally.

  • Do I have to commit long-term?

    We hope that each partnership will last as long as possible. We have some partnerships which have been matched for over 10 years. However we know that life can change for people and often unexpectedly and therefore may have to end their partnership.

  • How much time will Advocacy take up?

    There are no set hours that you have to spend with your partner. This is about fitting it into both the advocate’s and partner’s lifestyle. Some partnerships see each other once a week, some see each other once a month. It is about what the two people involved want out of the advocacy partnership.

  • Will I need training to become a Citizen Advocate?

    Citizen Advocates don’t need any formal training or qualifications. We provide a Preparation Course, which is partly one-to-one with a development worker and also two group sessions usually held on two weekday evenings, one week apart.

    Long-Term Citizen Advocates are also provided with information and training on specific issues or areas if they are relevant to the person they are matched with. For example some advocates have requested training on specific areas like epilepsy or communication.

  • What skills are needed to become an Advocate?

    Citizen Advocates don’t need any specific qualifications or experience, you just need to be caring, compassionate and keen to spend your time helping others. Qualities that most of our Advocates have are:

    • a commitment to equality for people in vulnerable situations.
    • a commitment to involve their partner on an equal basis.
    • a willingness to get involved in a number of roles, for example, speaking or writing letters on behalf of a partner and researching problems and solutions.
    • compassion and a sense of justice.
    • the ability to be diplomatic and understanding of others.

Finding Support

  • How long does it take to get an Advocate?

    This can vary. We can not guarantee to work with someone straight away for long or short-term advocacy. However if there are no short-term advocates available we will sign post someone to another organisation that may be able to help them. Long-term advocacy can take some time as a development worker will get to know the partner first and will then network within the community to find an advocate for them.

  • How do I refer someone to become an Advocacy Partner?

    Simply contact the office and we will discuss advocacy and then if appropriate arrange to meet the person who has been referred.

  • How can I become an Advocacy Partner?

    Anyone can make a referral to Dunfermline Advocacy, so someone can refer themselves or ask someone to do it for them.

  • Who is eligible for support?

    Up until October 2013, people over 16 with a learning disability living in West Fife. From October 2013  this will be widened to vulnerable people in Fife, aged 16 or above, who are affected by: disability, chronic illness, dementia, mental illness, learning disability or personality disorder, who are unable to safeguard their own well-being, rights, care or other interests.

  • How do I know if I will get on with my Advocate/Partner?

    The development worker will aim to match people with common interests and who will feel comfortable with each other. Any problems can be discussed with your development worker - they are always there to support you.